Trekking the Inca Trail is one of the most popular bucket-list experiences in the world. There are many trails in this region of Peru, but the one most people refer to as the Inca Trail is the Classic Trail. It stretches 43km from Kilometre 82 to Sun Gate, which was once the gateway toMachu Picchu, and commonly takes four days.
“Anyone who is reasonably fit can complete the four-day Classic Inca Trail,” Philactides says. “The biggest challenge is the altitude, and we advise trekkers to take it slow so their body can acclimatise.”
The main reason people trek the Inca Trail is to reach Machu Picchu, the “lost city” of the Incan civilisation. The combination of the ancient ruins against the beautiful mountaintop scenery is breathtaking.
Many will combine the Inca Trail trip with a visit to Cusco, a colonial city around a 75-minute flight from Lima.
You will find great restaurants, opportunities to shop and archeological sites close to the village. A full-day bus trip from Cusco are the villages of Lake Titicaca, where tourists can experience home stays with local villagers and learn about their way of life.
When to visit
The Inca Trail is open year-round to tourists, except for February, when it closes for maintenance. However, the peak trekking conditions are from April to October when the weather is generally dry and the days sunny. The most popular months to visit are May and June.
“We have staff who camp outside the permit office the night before the permits go on sale,” Philactides says. “A team works from 5am to ensure our clients don’t miss out.
Philactides says if you do miss out, there are trails you can do that do not need a permit. “We actually get some people who request our Quarry Trail instead of the Classic because it’s remote and less crowded, you’re unlikely to bump into other tourists, there are archeological sites and interaction with locals along the way.”
When to book
“If you want to visit in May or June, make sure you book before January and provide your passport number to the tour operator, which they will need to secure your permit,” Philactides says.
It’s best to book your trip about six months in advance, but if you’ve left it late, you may secure discounts to Peru in January or February when Flight Centre holds its South America expo.
HIGH TIME: The ruins of the Inca city of Machu Picchu in the Andes.